This is a guest post from Reynolda House Museum of American Art:
Reynolda House Museum of American Art is the recipient of a three-year grant to advance diversity in the art museum field. With the funding, the museum will undertake a program, starting in January 2018, to strengthen the pipeline of students and recent graduates from underrepresented populations interested in museum careers. Reynolda’s project is made possible, in part, through the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative, funded by the Walton Family Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Reynolda was among 20 pioneering art museums around the country selected to participate.
The grant, a total of $188,700, will enable Reynolda to offer three yearlong fellowships, providing the opportunity for recent graduates from underrepresented populations to gain professional experience in an art museum setting. Recent studies show that staffing and leadership roles in museums across the United States do not adequately reflect the nation’s socio-economic and racial make-up.
“We are honored to be among the museums selected for this prestigious program to address a true need in the field,” said Allison Perkins, executive director of Reynolda House and Wake Forest associate provost for Reynolda House and Reynolda Gardens. “The lessons to be learned from this program will bolster our efforts to diversify staff, board, volunteers, and visitors in order to better reflect the community we serve.”
Fellows will be involved in three major departments at the museum, working 1,800 hours per year in the areas of public programs, curatorial and education. The museum worked closely with Wake Forest University in developing the fellows program and will offer candidates housing on the Wake Forest campus and a certification in Business Essentials for Nonprofits from the university.
“This is a major initiative not only for the museum, but also for Wake Forest,” said Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch. “The opportunity for Reynolda House to play a significant role in changing the composition of leadership in the museum field directly supports our commitment to creating a pluralistic and inclusive campus environment.”
The grant includes a plan for capacity-building for inclusion among museum staff and a stipend for undergraduate interns. Over the next three years, Reynolda will hire five interns per year from underrepresented populations, each working 8-10 hours per week.
The fellowships will be open to recent college graduates, and the internships will be open to students currently enrolled in a college or university. Key members of Reynolda’s education, public programs and curatorial departments will administer the program, including recruitment, targeted mentoring and assessment.
The museum’s focus on developing a career track for underrepresented populations is in keeping with its commitment to achieve diversity across all constituencies through capacity building efforts. Earlier this year, staff and board embarked on a new strategic planning process to guide the museum’s work going forward. Diversity and inclusion is one of the plan’s strategic directions. Reynolda Museum of American Art marked its 50th anniversary in September.